Monday, January 22, 2018
Cooking

Five ideas for "fluff" dessert salads

Growing up with parents from different states meant I was introduced to lots of weird regional food. For example: Taylor Pork Roll in New Jersey and dessert "salads" in Minnesota. What is a dessert salad? It's a child's delight. Made with some combination of gelatin, whipped topping, pudding mix, canned fruit and marshmallows, it comes in lovely shades of pastels. Sometimes we call it fluff salad, but salad it is not. This sweet glop is a common side dish at potlucks and parties in the Midwest. Even my parents' wedding reception. If you're from a certain part of the country, you know about "fluff." If not, it can be polarizing. When I brought a bowl to work recently, some of my co-workers grimaced. But when I posted a photo of that bowl on Instagram, it became my most-liked photo of the year so far. Given our extreme Florida heat this time of year, I thought it would be a good time to introduce the rest of you to these fluffy indulgences. They're easy; no baking necessary. The hardest part is waiting for them chill before diving in. These five ideas go beyond the typical ambrosia salad.

Brittany Volk, Times staff writer

Orange Fluff Salad

Let's start with a classic: my grandmother's favorite recipe. This is always served at family gatherings. Combine 1 box orange Jell-O mix, 1 box tapioca pudding mix and 4 cups boiling water in a large bowl. Put in the fridge until set. Once set, fold in 1 (8-ounce) container thawed Cool Whip, 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, not drained, and 1 (8-ounce) can drained mandarin oranges. Refrigerate again for 2 to 3 hours before serving. Recipe from Rose Veenhof of Edgerton, Minn.

Snickers Caramel Apple Salad

This fluff reminds me of when my mom kept a bag of fun-size Snickers candy bars in our freezer during the summer. Start with 6 small apples, a blend of Granny Smith and Red Delicious, and core and chop them. Cut 6 full-size Snickers bars into bite-sized pieces. Whisk together 1 box instant vanilla pudding mix and ½ cup milk in a large bowl. Fold in 1 (12-ounce) container thawed Cool Whip, chopped apples and Snickers and 1 cup marshmallows. Drizzle ½ cup caramel sauce on top and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 12. Recipe from spicysouthernkitchen.com.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Fluff Salad

Sweet and salty, this salad satisfies a crowd. In a large bowl, beat together 4 ounces cream cheese, ¼ cup peanut butter, 2 tablespoons grape jam and 1 tablespoon milk. Gently stir in 2 cups mini marshmallows and 2 cups red seedless grapes. Fold in 1 (8-ounce) container thawed Cool Whip until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 1 hour. Garnish with sprinkles, extra marshmallows and crushed peanuts. Serves 6 to 8. Recipe from thenymelrosefamily.com.

Banana Split Fluff Salad

Serve this salad with graham crackers for dipping. Mix together 1 box instant banana pudding mix and 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, not drained. Stir until dissolved and thickened. Fold in 1 (8-ounce) container thawed Cool Whip. Gently stir in 1 cup mini marshmallows, ½ cup finely chopped walnuts, ½ cup mini chocolate chips, 2 sliced bananas and 1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, halved. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to chill. Garnish with more chopped walnuts. Makes about 8 cups. Recipe from insidebrucrewlife.com.

S'mores Cheesecake Fluff

Guests will definitely want s'more of this fluff. (Sorry.) In a bowl, mix together 2 (8-ounce) blocks softened cream cheese and 1 cup powdered sugar until combined. In another bowl, heat 10 ounces marshmallows and 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave on high in intervals of 30 seconds until melted. Immediately add cream cheese mixture and beat until combined. Add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 2 cups heavy whipping cream and beat on high for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Once cheesecake has cooled, break 1 package graham crackers into small pieces and toss into the mixture. Chop 3 Hershey chocolate bars and stir into cheesecake mixture. Serves 8. Recipe from tornadoughalli.com.

Comments
Taste test: New cereals

Taste test: New cereals

The cereal aisle is one of our favorites at the grocery store. Every week, it seems new options are rolled out, each with even more sugar, chocolate or some twist on an old favorite. January seems a particularly popular month for new cereal promotion...
Updated: 4 hours ago

From the food editor: Mastering the frittata, with help from a lot of mozzarella cheese

Let’s talk about frittatas. Specifically, how I can never seem to make one that actually tastes good. They are described in blogs and cookbooks as an easy, breezy dish suitable for using up leftovers lingering in your fridge. Like a quiche, but low-c...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Healthful eating is just a one-pan fish dish away

Healthful eating is just a one-pan fish dish away

By Ellie KriegerI recoil at the repentant food chatter that crops up this time of year, dominated by words such as "cleanse" and "detox," which, from what I can tell, are just modern code for "extreme diet." But part of cultivating a healthy, balanc...
Published: 01/17/18
We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

We tried eating the recommended serving of fruit and vegetables for a week, and it was harder than we thought

I sat at my desk eating chunked pineapple straight out of the can, reading about how much fruit and vegetables we should all be eating every day: 1 1/2 to two cups of fruit, 2 1/2 to three cups of vegetables, at a minimum, per the United States Depar...
Published: 01/17/18
Taste test: pot stickers

Taste test: pot stickers

Whenever I order meals at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant I always look for pot stickers on the menu. The tasty Asian dumplings are filled with pork or chicken and veggies and cooked with a perfect balance of steaming and frying. The reason I order ...
Published: 01/16/18
From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

From the food editor: Recipe for warm, cozy Pita Ribollita soup

When I first made this soup, Florida was in the grips of a cold weather snap, the likes of which rarely happens in this part of the state. We’re talking a whole week of lows in the 30s. The 30s! It was everything I ever wanted and more — the rare win...
Published: 01/16/18
Will you be drinking mushroom coffee in 2018? Here are some predicted food trends

Will you be drinking mushroom coffee in 2018? Here are some predicted food trends

By Drew JacksonBleeding veggie burgers, edible flowers and tree-based sparkling waters could be the most popular foods of the year.Whole Foods, the organics pioneer and Jeff Bezos-backed supermarket, peered into its crystal milk jug and unveiled what...
Updated one month ago
Tampa’s JoAnne Tucker takes a win in Pillsbury Bake-Off

Tampa’s JoAnne Tucker takes a win in Pillsbury Bake-Off

The Pillsbury Bake-Off is serious business and big bucks. Since 1949, the country’s most competitive home cooks put their thinking caps on: How can I use one of the designated Pillsbury products in a new, original — and here’s the tricky part — outra...
Published: 01/09/18
For something different, embrace the country-style pork rib

For something different, embrace the country-style pork rib

When it comes to pork, most home cooks know the chop, the tenderloin, the loin roast, even the Boston butt. But because I am a sucker for the underdog and the oddball, I have a new favorite cut of pork: the country-style rib.Why oddball? First, it su...
Updated one month ago
From the food editor: Turkey meatloaf and potatoes cook together in this one-pan recipe

From the food editor: Turkey meatloaf and potatoes cook together in this one-pan recipe

January brings a weird dichotomy. I’m often exhausted from December, a month packed with lots of travel and merriment and comfort food. But I also feel energized for the new year, fresh planner in hand and lots of lofty goals ready to be set.It’s the...
Updated one month ago